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Lighthouse: Live! (remaster)

Been a fan of classic rock and prog for as long as you can remember, but never heard of the powerhouse band Lighthouse? Well, don't feel bad, as I'm sure that there are many folks who share your confusion. Lighthouse were a Canadian band who hit the scene in 1970 and scored a few hit singles, most notably "One Fine Morning" and "Just Wanna Be Your Friend", but historically they will probably be best remembered for their live performances. You see, Lighthouse generally went on stage with at least a dozen or so musicians, including a full horn & reed section, cellos, keyboards, guitar, bass, vibes, and drums. Picture early Chicago and Blood Sweat & Tears, but with more emphasis on hard rock, jazz, and classical song structures. Oh, and these guys could seriously jam!

This classic album was recorded February 2nd, 1972 at New York's Carnegie Hall, recently remastered by keyboard/vibes player Paul Hoffert. It remains an astounding piece of recorded musical history, showing a rock band throwing away all conventional wisdom and simply "going for it". Sure, Lighthouse could churn out some catchy hooks and melodies (the alluring "Just Wanna Be Your Friend", the psychedelic pop of "Old Man", and the soaring hit "One Fine Morning" are prime examples), but they really hit paydirt on extended romps and progressive tinged hard rock numbers. "You and Me" is a near 10-minute flight that starts off as a folky-psychedelic pop number, which slowly morphs into a rocking, Jethro Tull inspired flute fest, featuring the wispy blasts of Howard Shore and some ripping guitar work from Ralph Cole. In fact, Cole's incredibly funky riffs and blistering solos are all over hard rock pieces like "Take It Slow (Out in the Country)" and the crankin' "Rockin' Chair", and he really shines during an extended jaunt on the epic 18 minute re-working of the Byrds classic "Eight Miles High", one of the albums highlights that contains plenty of jamming and adventurous instrumental passages from the whole band. Drummer Skip Prokop really worked well with the large horn & reed section, as the tight arrangements on tunes like "1849" and "Insane" rival anything the already mentioned Chicago and BS&T were doing at the same time. The addition of cello, vibes, congas, tambourine, and percussion to the raging trumpets, trombone, sax, flute, guitar, bass, keyboards, and drums, really gave this band a huge big band sound, and it shows on each and every track here. Credit also needs to be given to the vocal skills of guitarist Cole, drummer Prokop, and members of the horn section Shore, Larry Smith, and Keith Jollimore-they all did a fine job on this evening.

Normally this would get a perfect score here, but I'm holding back a half point due to this reissue not having any commemorative photos from the show, or any live shots whatsoever. It's a shame as this release deserved the full treatment, but nontheless, the music is really what matters, and this is killer stuff from a long forgotten band. Grab this if you can, as it's amazing stuff.

Track Listing
1. Concert Introduction
2. Just Wanna Be Your Friend
3. Take It Slow (Out in the Country)
4. Old Man
5. Rockin' Chair
6. You & Me
7. Sweet Lullabye
8. 1849
9. Eight Miles High
10. Insane
11. One Fine Morning

Added: July 24th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Paul Hoffert Website
Hits: 2353
Language: english

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